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4.38 Ruth -- An Alternative History

The next important event in this book was the death of all the menfolk.  Apparently, Moab was not a healthy climate for Israelite men.  Within 10 years of settling there, Elimelech and his two sons died off, leaving three widows in one house.   One thing can be said in Ruth's favor -- the book moves through the preliminaries very quickly:  2 sins and 3 deaths in the first 5 verses!


Now that the men are out of the way, the main story can proceed.   This brings up an ancillary point.  Let's put on the Bible-critic hat for a moment: isn't it obvious, when we consider the heroines of the book, as well as the subject, that the author was a woman?   What man, ancient or modern, would write a book like this?  What man would write a love story from a woman's point of view?   But, it will be objected, no man invented these characters, he just reported the facts.  No, he didn't.  No man would consider any of these facts significant.  The survival of some widows and the remarriage of one of them wouldn't even register in his mind.  To him, the events of Judges are "real history"  --  there is debauchery, people fight and die, Israel is liberated for awhile, there is idolatry and more debauchery.  Such is life.  


Yet Ruth presents an entirely different genre of historical fact: history according to women.  Ruth relates exactly the kind of events that women would have told each other and passed on to their daughters.  This is not being patronizing, just the opposite.  Judges is a lot of noise and blood, accomplishing very little in terms of the redemption of a nation.  But Ruth tells of the redemption of a family.  There may be chaos in the geo-political sphere, but love and peace are still possible in the home.  Yes, Ruth is definitely the product of a woman author.




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